Feathering Custer by William S. Penn

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The noted Nez Perce fiction writer and critic W. S. Penn turns his wry and penetrating gaze on the state of modern Native life and literature and considers how modern scholarship has affected the ways Natives and others see themselves and their world. The result is a uniquely frank, witty, and unsettling critique of contemporary theory and its ability to come to terms with the real lives and literatures of Natives in North America. Key to this critique is the troubling issue of what properly constitutes a traditional "Indian" identity and an "Indian" literature within Native communities and in the academy. In confronting this issue, Penn exposes some of the sillier uses of the serious language of diversity as well as the impact of identity politics on Native professors. And yet, Penn argues, the storytelling traditions so central to Native communities remain very much alive today, hidden in the corners of the literary canon.

About William S. Penn

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W. S. Penn is the director of the Creative Writing Program and winner of the Distinguished Faculty Award at Michigan State University. His many books include the North American Indian Prose Award–winner All My Sins Are Relatives (Nebraska 1995); the American Book Award–winner Killing Time with Strangers; and This Is the World.
Published September 1, 2001 by University of Nebraska Press. 240 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Penn wreaks havoc with a smile or a sneer, as when he twits the dominant culture for ennobling all Indians, forgetting that there are degrees of quality and sophistication to differentiate the work of, say, James Welch from, say, Sherman Alexie, and when he repudiates postmodern approaches to lit...

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Publishers Weekly

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Just in time for the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Little Big Horn comes this provocative if uneven collection of essays by Nez Percé fiction writer and critic Penn, who attempts, with commendable verve and insight, to take the measure of Native American studies today.

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